In the first year, the program covers topics such as doctor-patient communication, introduction to medical ethics, cultural competence and professionalism. These are dealt with both by lectures as well as by working in small groups of about 14 students with two physician-facilitators. The small group format allows both a deeper understanding and internalization of the academic contents as well as application of this content through role-playing and discussion. In addition, the small group allows closer bonding among students, a climate of openness and candidness, and better acquaintance with the physician-facilitators and their work.
The teaching methods in the small groups include role-playing, analysis of video clips, group discussions, various assignments in the hospital and case presentations by the students.
Each small group is coached by two physician-instructors. These coaches come from various specializations, including family medicine, internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry etc.
To strengthen the understanding of the above mentioned topics and to allow their practice in real circumstances, the students are exposed to clinical settings such as hospital wards, the emergency room, out-patient clinics at the hospital and in the community and clinical setting facilities for specialized care of geriatric patients. .
As part of their visits in these settings, the students are introduced to the nature of work on the ward, meet with medical as well as para-medical staff members and interview patients. The students receive feedback on their interviews. , based on the communication skills they were taught in the first semester.
During the first year, some sessions are aimed at enriching the topics and supplying the students with examples such as a chairperson of a hospital ward talking about her experience around communicating with patients, a chronic patient who presents her perspective on her medical care, a meeting with a writer whose book deals with his experiences relating to various encounters with the medical profession,Additional topics include community health, military medicine, medicine in films etc.
The students are expected to perform several tasks and are evaluated on the basis of these assignments:
- The students are required to visit a community health center twice during the year and to write a reportdescribing these visits.
- During the first year, students are expected to meet 3-4 times with chronic patients in their homes and to write a report about these meetings.
- Students take a written examination covering the academic content learnt in the first semester.
- Students take an OSCE exam at the end of the second semester. The OSCE format requires students to move among several stations in which they interview simulated patients (played by actors).